I want to talk about one of the most controversial topics for self publishers: Is self publishing using Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select a good idea?
KDP requires that you make you book completely exclusive to Amazon for 90 days. That means you can’t publish to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, ANYTHING.
However, in exchange for the 90 day exclusive, Amazon gives KDP Select authors three things:
- The ability to share your book through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
- The ability to use the promotional technique of making your book free
- A higher royalty rate (currently 70%) for sales in Japan, Brazil, and India
At first glance, it doesn’t look that compelling does it? Let’s look at these a little:
Sharing in the Kindle Owners Lending Library
Why would I want to share my book? One word MONEY. You might make more on a lent book than on a SALE!
Members of Amazon Prime have a huge number of ebook titles that they can borrow for free with NO due dates. Amazon gives a share/royalty payment to you for each copy of you book someone borrows. Consider this: the current rate for a book borrowed is $1.60! If you sell your book for $0.99 – selling your book nets you 35 cents while a borrow nets you $1.60!
The Promotional Technique of the Free Book
Why would I want my book free for a few days? Amazon is all about the numbers. This is a promotional technique that will help your book hit lists. If someone likes sci-fi/adventure and there are no new books by their favorite author, they look at the bestseller list. The goal of this technique is to land on a paid bestseller list.
The strategy is to get hundreds of people to download your book while it’s free. When the price shifts back to “paid” you then can leverage the power of being on the bestseller list. Additionally, if you have multiple books or a series, this can be exponentially more powerful. Give away the first book for free, and that leads them to purchase books 2 and 3 (or a bundle deal of all three books).
Warning: I will say that many authors screw this up and you see many complaints in the forums about people who gave away their book and it did nothing for their sales. You need to research and plan the proper way to use this technique – timing (peaking on a list at 3AM may not help you), getting reviews, free ebook promotion sites, don’t use all 5 days at once, etc.
A Higher Royalty Rate in Some Countries
A higher royalty is a good thing 🙂 This is double the usual royalty ! The difficulty is that many authors (from the US) have trouble selling in those markets. The royalty is only good if you’re selling books in those countries. Still, doubling these royalties can pay an electric bill 🙂
Is KDP Select is a Good Idea?
Deciding where to publish is a gamble…plain and simple. By going exclusive with KDP direct, you’re banking that you’ll make more sales (and money) on Amazon then the other sites combined. Amazon is the big dog when it comes to ebook sales. Most ebook authors sell half the number of ebooks on Barnes & Noble than on Amazon (making a bestseller list can/will change this ratio). You are gambling that your Amazon sales, plus borrows (at $1.60 each), plus increased royalty is more than you would make elsewhere.
In general, here are my recommendations on whether KDP Select is something to try:
- If you’re completely new/your first book – wait on KDP Select and publish everywhere for at least 3 months. You’re trying to get your name out there and get established.
- If you have multiple books, but sales are lagging: Experiment with KDP Select with a focused plan to kick start sales
- If you sell your book for more than $5, be cautious with KDP Select (the lending may cannibalize sales a little), but you may be able to lend many more copies and get a bigger payday overall.